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August 31, 2006

Minnesota blasts Kent State in opener 44-0

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KENT, Ohio - Converted linebacker Alex Daniels rushed for 155 yards and three touchdowns to lead Minnesota over Kent State 44-0 Thursday night in Glen Mason's return to the school where he got his head coaching start.

Daniels, a highly touted linebacker whom Mason switched to running back following several losses at the position, opened the third quarter by carrying all seven times on a 56-yard touchdown drive.

The sophomore enjoyed wide open running lanes and punished Kent State's defenders with his 6-foot-3, 255-pound frame. He scored on runs of 1, 3 and 6 yards.

After Daniels left, Amir Pinnix scored on a 15-yard run and Justin Valentine on a 2-yard run. Pinnix finished with 114 yards.

The Golden Gophers (1-0) forced six turnovers, including two interceptions by Jamal Harris, to dominate Kent State in what amounted to a tune up for their Sept. 9 game at No. 9 California.

Minnesota's defense twice allowed Kent State (0-1) to reach the 1-yard line in the first half, but the Golden Flashes wasted both opportunities.

Julian Edelman hit Najah Pruden on a 64-yard pass, but as Pruden fought to break a tackle, linebacker Mario Reese forced a fumble and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.

The Golden Flashes, 1-10 last season, got to the 1-yard line again behind strong running by Eugene Jarvis, but failed to get in on three attempts. Reid Macko missed a 19-yard field goal.

Jarvis ran for 109 yards and Pruden had five catches for 118 yards.

Edelman was 7-of-13 for 150 yards and three interceptions.

Minnesota's Bryan Cupito was 8-of-14 for 146 yards and a 39-yard touchdown to Eric Decker.

Jason Giannini, who missed eight extra point attempts last season, kicked a 22-yard field goal and was 5-of-6 on PATs.

Mason was 12-10 in two seasons at Kent State (1986-87) and is the last Golden Flashes coach with consecutive winning records in the Mid-American Conference.

Kent State fell to 0-8 against the Big Ten. The Gophers were the first Big Ten team to play at Kent State.

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